Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Deck The Halls

Monday night "the other Kelly" (what my children call our friend who was one of Jimmy's college roommates--not to confuse him with "Uncle Kelly"--Lynn's husband) helped me decorate our house for Christmas.  Well, actually he does all the decorating, I just help unload the boxes and watch him work his magic.  This is the 11th year that Kelly has done this for me.  He makes our house look so pretty and festive!

 the top of a chest in my dining room

 the chest in the foyer

 the mantel

 my collection of Santas

 the metal tree Clay made me….I keep seasonal decorations on this tree year round.  
For December is has handmade ornaments (made by my children) and personalized ornaments with our names on them from years past.

 the bookcase in my den

 a little table in our den

 the Christmas card tree….
This is what it looked like when we brought it down from storage.
It looked like a Grinch tree!
 our kitchen table
Julie made these placemats a couple of years ago.

the Christmas card tree--all straightened (and propped up and taped together)

I picked up Olivia and Julie and Julie's roommate from the airport last night and we got home around 11:15.  The are here for 6 nights for their Thanksgiving break!  Woo! Hoo!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Happy Holidays!

Well, hello there and Happy Holidays!  Let the holiday season begin.
I tried to make my blog look a little "Christmasy".  I may tweak it a little bit.

Ok.  So since I have not blogged in forever, let me reintroduce myself.

My name is Roan Johnson.  I am happily married to the love of my life, Jimmy. We celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary back in June. We have five children:  Olivia--20, Julie--18, Clay--16, Leah--11, and Sam--9.  I am a full time homemaker and homeschooling mama.  This is my 15th year of homeschooling, and with two girls in college, I am down to teaching only three children.

I enjoy planning and organizing, reading, running, sewing and scrapbooking, although I never seem to have (make) time for sewing or scrapbooking. Sometimes I enjoy cooking.  I am a faithful weekly menu planner. I like routine in my days, and clutter and chaos stress me.

I am a Christian. I love my church family. I aspire to learn more and more from God's Word, so I always have some sort of Bible study plan going on.  Over the years I have completed the Read The Bible in 90 Days Challenge I think 3 times.  I am planning on doing this challenge again beginning in January.  I cannot recommend that challenge (and it is a challenge) enough.  To read the entire Bible from cover to cover in such a short period of time really impacts your life.  It helps to get the big picture of God's plan for His creation.  Currently I am reading High Voltage Prayer (the workbook) by Edwin Crozier, and I am also studying Acts for our weekly Bible class.

I began blogging in May of 2008, and I blogged diligently and regularly until the beginning of 2015.  I explained about why I took a hiatus in this post.   Then I announced that I would blog for 100 days straight, beginning on my birthday, September 16 (which is 100 days until Christmas).  But then I failed at that.  When you get out of the habit of doing something, it is really hard to begin again.  We just read about that in our book club book Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin.  Beginning a new habit is fun and exciting (most of the time), and your motivation to succeed is high.  When you experience a disruption in your habit and you desire to begin again, it is much harder the second time to be successful.  I have experienced that difficulty recently in both my running and my blogging.  Both are activities which I enjoy very much, but for some reason have struggled with actually doing them.

So. Hello again.  I am not making any promises this time, but I do plan to share some thoughts, encouragement, holiday planning tips, and just the mundane happenings of my life on somewhat of a regular basis.

This afternoon I am taking down my fall decorations to prepare for Christmas decorating tomorrow!

Monday, October 5, 2015

A Trip To Tampa

We are home from a 5 day trip to Tampa with Kelly and Lynn, and their oldest son, Parker.  We took Clay and Parker for an official college visit, and we were able to visit with Olivia and Julie too.

Much fun was had (as always when we are with Kelly and Lynn). Many laughs and many memories made. Lynn and I ran twice while we were there--4 miles each run, and it was hot. Jimmy ran many miles (20 one morning).

We attended some college classes.  Clay and Parker went to 5 classes, I went to 3, Lynn went to 1, Jimmy went to 1, and Kelly lasted about 10 minutes in college algebra.  :) We were also able to attend chapel twice, and we visited two different churches for services yesterday.

Jimmy took lots of pictures, and I hope to share some tomorrow.  It's late, and I don't think he has even downloaded them to his computer yet.

Leah and Sam stayed behind with Megan for half the time and half the time with Leanna.  Thanks girls!

While at the airport waiting to leave and also on the plane, I did some reading….I finished Tom Sawyer and I read my chapter for our book club this week.

That's all for now. Tomorrow's plans include beginning another week of half-marathon training, homeschool, XC practice, art lessons, grocery shopping and laundry.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Work and Play

I am reading both Tom Sawyer and Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin, and I found a passage in each book regarding work and play--both similar in a way, and both worth pondering.

From Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer, p.19:
"…..he would have now comprehended that work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do."

From Better Than Before, p. 193:
"But it turns out that extrinsic motivation undermines intrinsic motivation, so rewards can turn enthusiastic participants into reluctant paid workers, and transform fun into drudge work."

Now think about those two quotes for a minute.

Also remember that what is fun for one person may not be fun for another, and the same is true about work. 

Play is what we do because we enjoy doing it.  Work is something that we perceive (and usually rightly so) we have to do. Play can become work if we are doing it for the wrong reasons, and this usually affects our attitude toward the activity in a negative way. Work can be perceived as play if our attitude toward the task at hand is a positive one.

Most of it is in our mind.

Before this all gets too confusing, just remember that whatever you are facing--play or work--thanksgiving produces joy. Find something to be thankful for. Enjoy your work, and enjoy your play, but in all things give thanks to God who makes it all possible. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

This and That

  • We are still watching the MSU game.  So far, it has not been too much fun to watch.  It's not over yet, so I am still hopeful.
  • My girls are coming home for fall break in less than two weeks!  Yay!
  • What did we do before Google?  How did we find the answer to random questions? 
  • Do you ever look at your Pinterest pins?  Or do you just pin things and never look at them again? I recently looked at all my pins, and I was so inspired by the things I had pinned!
  • Megan introduce me to Bitmoji, which I immediately shared with Lynn and Leanna. Our texts will never be the same!  :)
  • The game is almost over. It's not looking too good for the Bulldogs.  :(
  • M&Ms are my favorite.
  • If I run 3 miles in the morning, I will have all my miles for the week.
  • That's all.

Friday, October 2, 2015

My Laptop Was in Tallahassee

Last night when I got ready to blog, I realized that my laptop was in the car with Jimmy…in Tallahassee! He went yesterday to Tallahassee to watch the older girls run a cross country meet at Florida State University.  It was another huge meet for them. I am so proud of them, and I am so happy that Jimmy has now seen 3 of their meets this year!

Tomorrow we are grilling out and watching the Mississippi State vs. Texas A&M with Kelly and Lynn.  Go State!

I haven't gotten out my fall decorations yet.  I went to Megan's house Thursday, and it looks so cute and fallish.  So cute!  I am hosting two bridal showers in November, so I really have to get out the fall decor!  I did plug in some leaves wallflowers last week, so at least my house smells like fall.

It's time to think about Christmas.  As soon as I see that Hobby Lobby has their Christmas gift wrap out, I'll let you know.  They will have it 40% off I'm sure.  They will put it 50% off later, but by that time most of the cuter prints are sold out. They actually had a few rolls of Christmas wrapping paper the last time I was there, but very, very few.  I can't wait until it's all out on display!

Well, it's almost midnight, so I better click on "publish" or this post will not make it today.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Better Than Before: Chapter 2

This week's running book club met this morning to run 8 miles and discuss chapter 2 of Better Than Before, entitled:  Self-Knowledge:  Distinctions.

This chapter presented several pairs of types of people followed by examples of each.  I wrote down most of these choices on my hand along with some key words from the discussion questions at the end of the chapter.

The written reminders really facilitated our discussion….until I started sweating.  And also, for most of the pairs I wrote down only one of the choices, and sometimes we could not think of the other choice!

All in all, it was a lively, enlightening discussion, and a great run!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Hemming Jeans

Since I am short, I rarely find jeans (or any kind of pants) that are not too long.  The only exception is "ankle length", which is just the right length for me.  I bought a new pair of jeans last weekend, and of course they were too long. I remember seeing on Pinterest a neat way of hemming jeans that retained the original hem.  I did a quick search, found this Pin, and I was in business.  In about 15 minutes I had hemmed my jeans! I was so happy.  This really is such an easy way to do it.
You can find this pin here.

Happy hemming!

Monday, September 28, 2015

This Time I Did Forget!

Last week, one night I almost forgot to blog, but yesterday, I completely forgot!  I realized early this morning that I failed to blog yesterday.  Sunday morning I actually planned the hymn I wanted to share (we sang it at our worship service), but I got so busy yesterday, that I never even turned on my computer.

So……now I've broken the 100 days of blogging streak that I wanted to do.  :(
But, I am not giving up.  I will begin again today, and hopefully yesterday will be my only slip-up.  Keeping goals is like that…..If you make a mistake, just pick yourself up and get right back to it.

Here is the hymn.  What wonderful words to ponder.
The notes in my hymnbook state "C.E. Couchman (1986); based on Psalm 119:11, 18, 28, 50, 55"

Thy Word Is a Treasure

Thy word is a treasure, more precious than earth's fine gold.
How my heart grows richer each time the story is told.

Each page holds a promise:  peace, mercy, redeeming love.
Each promise exalts my hope to sing praises above.

Thy word is all wisdom; thy counsel I gladly seek.
Guide my understanding; open my eyes, Lord, to see.

Thy word gives me comfort when sorrows seem hard to bear,
A song for my journey, strength when my soul would despair.

Thy word is eternal, though heaven and earth must end.
Thy truth shall endure forever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

My Saturday

At 6:00 this morning, I took Clay, Parker, Carson, and Sam to the Frank Horton Invitational XC Meet in Memphis.  Clay and Parker are both on our homeschool XC team, the Spartans, and Carson and Sam are the cheering and supportive brothers!  Jimmy is on call today, :( and of course my older girls are away at college.  They did not have a meet today. Their next meet is next Saturday at the Florida State University.

All of the Spartans had a fantastic race day!  Most of the runners either set a personal record, ran much faster than they did at the last meet, or both.  There were twenty-something teams running today, so this was a big meet.

The rest of my Saturday included making my weekly grocery list, buying the groceries, picking up Leah from a birthday party, cooking supper, and cleaning my kitchen.  Since I slept only 4 hours, 47 minutes last night, according to my Jawbone UP, I plan to retire early tonight.

It's time for me to go through Sam and Leah's clothes and weed out what is too small or in too bad of shape to wear next year. Then I will go shopping in my basement (from my boxes of hand-me-downs). Lastly, I will make a list of what (if any) new items they need for fall/winter.  I know they will need jeans, but hopefully, not much more than that!  Oh, shoes too.  I will probably buy Leah a couple of new outfits so that her entire wardrobe is not hand-me-downs, but that is all.  Passing clothes from one sibling to the next is such a blessing.

Happy Saturday night to you.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Our First Running Book Club Meeting

Leanna, Lynn, and I met Esther this morning for a 7 mile run and discussion of our very first book, Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin.  Esther did not know we were reading the book, but we quickly summarized the introduction and chapter one for her.

Then we began talking about what we had read. Chapter one describes the Four Tendencies regarding habit-keeping.  I know there are various quizzes and assessments available to determine one's personality, but this one is geared to how or why you keep habits in your life. The four tendencies are:
1.  Upholder
2.  Obliger
3.  Questioner
4.  Rebel.
You can click here to take the quiz to determine which tendency fits you.  We all talked about which one we thought we were and why.

I am mostly an upholder, but I have a little bit of a rebel tendency every now and then.  Not a rebel in the sense of breaking rules or engaging in sinful behavior, but rebelling against something that is ok, but not my idea. I can be bossy (surprise!), and I don't take commands very well…..but for the most part, I am an upholder.  But here is another twist.  While I am almost always compliant with both outer and inner expectations (goals that people know or don't know about), I am careful to set goals that I feel I can achieve… I can be an upholder!  What a cycle.

So if you so desire and have the time, take the quiz.  Leave me a comment and tell me which tendency you are.  And if you are surprised that I consider myself an upholder.  :)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Homemade Granola Bars

Julie was our granola bar maker, and since she has gone to college, I am back to making them again.  I had to look up the recipe!  Also several people have asked me for our granola bar recipe recently.  The recipe I had previously published on this blog has been tweaked.  So, I decided to retype the recipe with all the changes that we have made.

Homemade Granola Bars

6 cups rice krispie cereal
6 cups old-fashioned oats
2 cups chopped nuts
1 12oz. jar natural peanut butter
1 21oz. jar brown rice syrup
3/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
2-4 scoops protein powder (optional)

Melt peanut butter, brown rice syrup, and chocolate chips on stovetop. Stir in salt, vanilla, and protein powder (if using). In a very large bowl, mix cereal, oats, and nuts.  Pour melted ingredients over dry ingredients and stir until well combined.  Spread mixture into two greased 9x13 baking pans.  Put bars into the freezer for 10-15 minutes.  Cut each pan into 20 bars.  Wrap each bar in a small piece of plastic wrap.  Store at room temperature.

I need a little bit of blogger technical help.  I cannot remember how to access the "About Me" widget on the left upper sidebar of my blog.  I need to update the years I have been married, the children's ages, and my picture.  I have searched all over the blog account pages, I cannot find where to do this.  Can anyone help me? I have clicked on this widget under the "layout" tab, but it does not allow me to make any changes.
Thank you so much!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I Almost Forgot

I began a blogging streak one week ago today, and as I was getting ready for bed tonight, I realized that I never posted today.  Since I said I would post for 100 days straight---I turned my computer back on!

I really like to read.  At any given time I have at least two books going.  Currently I am reading, reading out loud to my children, or listening to on Audible the following books:

Climb Happiness Hill
Plugged In Prayer
the Bible
Better Than Before
Tom Sawyer
By the Shores of Silver Lake
The Indian in the Cupboard
Across Five Aprils

I think that is all.  Leanna, Lynn, and I chose Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin for our first running book club book.  We have to read the introduction and chapter 1 by Friday.

I better get to reading!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Little Bit About Our Homeschool This Year

This is the first year in a long time that I have had only three children to homeschool.  But it still takes me all day!  Not really, but on most days, if I do all subjects with Leah and Sam and check/review all of Clay's work, it takes me from 8:30AM-3:00PM.

Sam is in the 4th grade, Leah is in the 6th, and Clay is in the 11th.  Clay does all of his subjects independently, but I spend about 1 hour each day checking his work, having him make any corrections, and teaching him any new math concepts he had trouble with that day.

Leah and Sam sit at our schoolroom table (with me in between) and complete their schoolwork.  They do some subjects independently, some with minimal instruction (math), some with a little bit more instruction (writing--IEW), and some completely with me (science and Sonlight).

I laughed earlier this summer when I was planning my school days.  In past years I have labored over color coded schedules with 30 minute intervals---a MOTH schedule at its finest!  This year I jotted down a few things on a scrap piece of notebook paper.  :)

Here is our current daily routine:

7:45 AM:  Make sure all children are awake and drinking coffee (except for Clay who does not drink coffee).  Morning chores, breakfast. Clay is normally up before this time, and he begins his schoolwork before Bible time.
8:30:  Bible lesson and Scripture memory drills with all children at our kitchen table.
9:00:  Clay--upstairs to complete his schoolwork, Leah and Sam to the schoolroom.  I help Leah and Sam as they need me and check their work as they complete it.  They make their corrections at that time.
11:00:  Clay is still working.  I do a science lesson with Leah and Sam.  We usually have a snack during our science time.
11:30:  Leah and Sam take a break. I work with Clay at this time (reviewing/correcting/teaching math)
12:30PM:  Lunch (I do some laundry, make phone calls, answer emails, etc. during this time too.)
1:30:  Sonlight reading with Leah and Sam. Clay finishes any English work or other schoolwork he has not completed.
2:30:  We are usually done for the day. If we are later to eat lunch or the Sonlight readings are longer than normal, we don't finish until 3:00.

On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays (afternoons) the kids have extra activities outside the house. On Wednesday afternoons, beginning at 3:00, I teach a small English class at my house for Clay and 5 other 11th graders.

That's it!  Our homeschool day.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Edible Cell

It's hard to believe, but it has been 5 years since my children made their very first edible cell.  Clay was in the 6th grade, and all five of my children participated in this fun activity.

Now Leah is in the 6th grade, and she and Sam (4th grade) are studying Apologia's Human Anatomy and Physiology course. We finished the first module last Thursday, and Friday they made the cell.

You can click here to read all about the first edible cell we made (and see how much my children have grown!)

Leah made the jello, and after it cooled I let them make the cell all by themselves.  

They actually took most of these pictures themselves too.

Fun and educational!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday's Hymn

Here is a hymn to hopefully set the tone for your upcoming week.

Take Time to Be Holy
W.D. Longstaff, Geo. C. Stebbins

Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide with Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God's children; help those who are weak, 
Forgetting in nothing His blessings to seek.

Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret with Jesus alone.
Abiding in Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.

Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul;
Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
Thou soon shall be fitted for service above.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Last Couple of Days

Jimmy and Clay left yesterday morning at 4:40AM for a 1400 mile round trip to Gainesville, Florida, to see Olivia and Julie run in a huge cross country meet. They also delivered Olivia's goldfish that I forgot to take when I took Julie to college back in August (Olivia had to fly down to school a week early for a summer school class…..and I was supposed to bring the fish, except that I forgot!)

 Proud Daddy with Olivia and Julie after the Mt. Dew Invitational

While they were gone Leah, Sam, and I cleaned house, did some school,  bought groceries, and hosted 6 other children for a little spend the night party. (Lynn's younger two children and all four of Leanna's). They played while I prepared food for our family Bible study meal (that we had tonight) and packed the car for the tailgating at the Miss. State ballgame (earlier today).

The three mamas (Lynn, Leann, and I) and 11 children left around 8:00 AM this morning to go see the Bulldogs play. All three of our husbands were unable to attend today's game (Jimmy--on his road trip, and Kelly and Joe were working). The teenage boys set up and took down our big tent, and we all worked together hauling everything to and from the car. We enjoyed a nice day in front of Allen Hall, relaxing and eating lunch together before the game.

We watched the Bulldog Walk, rested in the shade a little bit more, loaded up all three of our vehicles, and then went on in the game.

It. Was. Hot.

 Lynn, Leanna, and Me---before the game---before we melted.

 The Children

A selfie we took after sweltering at the game awhile.
Nice photo bomb from the guy sitting behind us.
None of us have a twitter, but we texted the picture to Kelly to see if he could add it to the #maroonselfies so we could appear on the jumbotron (We never saw it). :)

We left at halftime in order to make it back home for our family Bible study.  We made it just in time! And guess who else made it too (before us!)?  Jimmy and Clay.

That's my last two days.
And that's post #4 of 100!

Friday, September 18, 2015

My St. Jude Half Marathon Training Plan

I have had this plan all summer, and I have been doing the first couple of weeks of it repeatedly. I think I have done the runs exactly as listed only twice. Most weeks I either ran only once or twice or I did a longer run than listed and then didn't run much more! Anyway. I looked at my calendar earlier this week, and I realized that I have exactly 12 weeks until the half marathon, so it is time to follow the plan!

I have 2 miles left to complete week 1, but I did not run the miles as directed….I ran 4, 7, 3, and I will run 2 tomorrow to finish it out.  Lynn and Leanna have been more consistent in their running lately, and they are already up to a 7-10 mile long run. I will continue to run their long run with them and adjust the rest of my miles accordingly.

Ok. Now that I have published my plan…..I have to follow it.  :)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Running Book Club

This is the stack of unfinished books on my nightstand.  Most of them were begun earlier this summer….I am rereading Tom Sawyer for the English class I am teaching, and yesterdayI chose Better Than Before to be the first other book that I finish.

A few weeks ago Leanna suggested that she, Lynn, and I have a running book club, which means that we choose a book to read at home and then discuss it weekly while we are doing our long run.  Doesn't that sound like fun? It really does to me. The problem we are having is choosing the first book. We considered Little Women, because it's the next book I need to reread for my class. However, this morning we discussed maybe doing a Gretchen Rubin book (she has three that I like).

I am going to suggest that we choose our first book by Saturday and have the first chapter read by the time we do our long run next week.

I'll share what we chose when we figure it out.  :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Running Motivates Me

I have gotten out of the habit of doing many things the last several months.  Blogging and running are just two of those things.

This morning as I was running (and my running has been so sporadic lately), I came to a couple of conclusions.
1.  I have got to get back to doing two things that I know I love doing (running and blogging).
2.  I am going to start TODAY doing those two things again.
3.  I have a plan for both blogging and running. 

Running:  I am supposed to be training for the St. Jude Half Marathon in December, and I have a training plan in place for that.  Starting this morning, I am following that plan.  No excuses.  No exceptions.
Blogging: Today marks 100 days until Christmas Day.  I know that because (1) I received an email stating that fact, and (2) Today is my birthday, and I always know that from my birthday until Christmas Day is 100 days.  So, I have given myself the challenge of blogging every day for 100 days.
Usually, setting goals and putting them on paper motivates me to keep the goal.  

My blog posts will vary in content and length, but I am committing to posting something each day.

*****I want to share a somewhat short explanation of why I have fallen out of the habit of blogging since last February.*****
  1. We discontinued our satellite internet service last February.  Ever since then we have used our iPhones as personal hotspots to use the internet on our computers.  I have had a mental block regarding this.  It really is not that big of a deal to connect to my phone in order to access the internet on my laptop, but it is  perceived inconvenience. No more.  I am going to make myself blog even though it requires a tiny bit more effort than just opening my laptop and starting to type. In case you are wondering, we live in a somewhat rural area where absolutely no high-speed internet access is available except for satellite (which is overpriced, slow, and unreliable). I even contacted our public service commissioner this summer, begging him to do something so we could have high-speed internet.  They are working on it. Which means it may be years before something is available in our area.  :)
  2. This is the most important reason I have not been blogging……last February my beloved father-in-law, Jim was diagnosed with cancer (cholangiocarcinoma), and to be honest, the stress of that journey and all it entailed overtook my daily life. It was a precious time. Sadly (for us, but happily for him), Jim passed from this life on July 29. My sister-in-law, Megan, blogged perfectly about our experience, and you can click here to read it.  Anyway, I was conflicted the entire time about my blogging.  From the beginning of my blog, I have purposed to keep it real. Meaning that if I had personal struggles I tried to share them, not in a way to ask for pity, but hopefully to encourage others.  I have always wanted my blog to be an encouragement to others.  I never intended to paint a false picture of "having it all together/super mom" while my personal life was falling apart.  So, when things got tough the last several months, I just stopped writing----not because I did not want to share our struggle, but because I felt like it was not my story to tell. Does that make sense?  I felt it was too personal to share someone else's illness…….on the other hand, I did not feel right blogging about the silly and mundane things happening at my house, when we were all going through such a trial with Jim.  It just didn't seem right.

But I am ready now.  

Last Saturday, my dear friends Lynn and Leanna and all of our families (17 of us in all!) ventured to the first MS State home football game of the season.  Our three families bought season tickets this year (all together---a row of 17).  Fun!  Lynn's sister and her children joined us for tailgating before the ballgame.  And, sadness!  Olivia and Julie are both far away at their own college, and will not be joining us---except for the State/Ole Miss game which will be played while they are home for Thanksgiving break.

 Jimmy and Me

Me, Leanna, Lynn, and Lesley

The game was fun….even though we LOST!  We stated for the entire game (bad decision!), and so since the game was not over until midnight, and there was the biggest traffic jam ever on campus--thousands of people trying to leave at the same time--we arrived home at 3:30 AM.

This is what sat in front of us!
Check out the purple and yellow checked pants.
(He was an enthusiastic LSU fan--let's just leave it at that.)

Until tomorrow…….

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Smoky Mountains Trip

Here are a few pictures from our trip to the Gatlinburg, Tennessee area last month. 
It really was a fun and relaxing trip. We stayed in the same cabin that we had stayed in two years ago. It is very spacious and clean, and we enjoyed it again.

We did the 8 mile craft loop one day and ate at the Wild (something?) Tea Room. I can't remember the name!  But it was delicious, and the boys were all good sports eating at a fancy tea room!

The other days we spent doing various hikes and the boys each did a blacksmithing class in Pigeon Forge one day. Well actually, Clay did a copper class, and they both had fun!

The children--they are all so tall now!

 The children and the mama

 The whole family---a nice stranger took this picture.

The brave kids on one of the skinny bridges.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

My Poor, Poor Garden

Two weeks ago when I returned home from Rustic Youth Camp, my garden was flourishing!  I picked green beans and canned three quarts (not a lot, I know, but we were traveling back and forth to Corinth frequently to check on Jimmy's daddy, and I knew that they would ruin if I did not put them up). I also had numerous tomatoes--we ate fresh tomatoes every day for a week or so, and I canned 7 pints. One morning I counted the green tomatoes that would be ripe in a week or so, and I counted over 300.


And it was basically ruined.  In about one day.  :(

This is the third year for us to put our garden in this particular spot.  We have deer that live in our woods (we see them all the time), but for some reason this is the first summer that they have discovered my garden and had themselves a little feast!  They ate every. single. pea.  They ate all the green beans. They ate most of the foliage on the tomato plants.  And they ate over half of my green tomatoes.  The ones they didn't eat, they took one bite out of and tossed it to the ground.  They trampled two of my bell pepper plants (I guess they don't like peppers, because they did not eat those plants). The only thing they have not destroyed are my squash and watermelon plants.

I cannot tell you how upset I am about the deer ruining my garden!

Clay ran fishing line at three different heights around the perimeter of the garden, and I sprayed the remaining plants with a gallon of my smelly deer repellent…..but I am afraid that it's all too late.

There are still some tomatoes on my plants, but the plants look pitiful.  Just pitiful. What green leaves the deer did not eat are turning yellow……I am not sure if the plants got too much rain last weekend when we had basically a flood, or that I waited too long to give them nitrogen. I did fertilize them just before the big rain last week….but still.  They look awful.  Not a red tomato in sight, and less than 50 green ones.  However, I did see some new growth on some of the plants this morning.  And I picked 12 green beans.

I'm glad my family is not depending on my garden for our food this winter.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Well. That's a Record

This is the longest I have ever gone without blogging since I began.

So much has been happening.  Some of it mundane. Some of it very stressful. Some of it happy and fun.

The summer is flying by.  We had a restful and enjoyable vacation to the Smoky Mountains.  We hiked almost every day, and our last hike was an 8 mile one!  It took us 6 hours, and at one point I thought I was going to fall off this skinny little board bridge into the raging river below.

Lynn and I (and Leanna too) survived another week long adventure known as Rustic Youth Camp. Lynn and I stayed at Hotel Beulah with our kids who are not old enough for the bunkhouse. Olivia stayed with us too, because she is 20 now, and she was an official teacher at camp! The week was hot and fun. I taught thirty 3rd and 4th graders with five other fabulous ladies.  Lynn tried out a new counselor position this year--cleaning crew.  She got to wipe up spills and clean bathrooms.  I am seriously thinking about signing up for something other than teaching next year.  :)

I've been diligently working on my English class plans.  I am really looking forward to teaching this class for Clay and his friends. The class will meet weekly for two hours for a total of 32 weeks.

Julie is getting ready to go off to college. That's the thing about having your kids two years apart… of them leaves home every other year.  I do have a small gap between Clay and Leah…..then just two years between Leah and Sam. So. Just nine more years of homeschooling left.

Julie is going to the same college as Olivia. They will not be roommates, but they will be living in the same dorm but on different floors.  Both girls are running XC for the school, so they will be spending time together every day. I plan to stay down there a while when I take Julie to get her settled and all. Olivia actually has to return to school one week early for a summer school class that she has been taking online this summer. (And that has been an adventure since we have no internet except for our phones!)

And yes. It will be an adjustment for our family to have both girls away from home.  But I am so happy for them and the opportunities they are having for spiritual, social, and academic growth. I cherish the time we are having all together this summer, and I will completely enjoy the times we have together when they are home for various holidays. I will also call them, text, them, email them, and write them letters on a daily basis. Jimmy and I and the other children also have a few visits planned to see them this fall. I have already bought our plane tickets!

Lynn's family and our family have a short lake house vacation together coming up soon. I am really looking forward to sitting down and doing nothing but visiting and reading a book.

I'm slowly getting my school materials organized and prepared for the upcoming year. I hope to find that Not Back To School Blog Hop and participate in August. That's always fun, and it motivates me to get my act together so I can share it with others. I like reading other people's plans too.

Last thing today.
My running has taken the back burner to life/traveling/visiting/whatever for quite a few months now. I plan to begin anew next Monday with some sort of running plan. My blogging and my running both have been in a slump, and I hope---I really am going to try---to rekindle both.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Summer is Here!

Each year as the summer begins, I like to make a master list of fun things and projects that I hope to accomplish over the short summer break.  Two years ago I wrote this article for The Homeschool Classroom.  It details how I make my summer list (with the kids' input) and how I implement the list. You can click here to read the post.

My list this year includes lots of canning and deep cleaning of my house and garage. Plus next year's school planning, getting Julie all ready to move to college, and doing a few things for Olivia's new (much larger) dorm room too.  Plus a vacation to the Smoky Mountains, Vacation Bible School, Rustic Youth Camp, and maybe even some sewing…..Oh, and I am probably going to teach a high school level English class (very small) for some homeschoolers this fall, so I have lots to plan and prepare for that.

Have fun planning and enjoying your summer!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Some Randomness

  • We finished school today, but we still have a few loose ends to tie up…..Clay needs to complete a works cited page for his research paper and also make his final corrections to this paper.  I am so pleased with his very first research paper.  His topic is Japanese sword making. I have three more chapters to read in Moccasin Trail for Leah, and we have 1.5 chapters left in our Apologia astronomy book (Leah and Sam).  I am really happy that is all we have left.  We tackled two Apologia science books this year:  botany and astronomy.  Next school year we are only doing one--the human body.
  • We almost have all our "spring" yard work completed. Clay will get us more mulch tomorrow to put around our little playground area, and I think that will do it!  We lost count, but Jimmy estimates that we have spread well over 100 bags of mulch. Sam is now an expert mulch spreader, and he has done a few of our flower beds all by himself.
  • Our garden is coming along nicely. It was getting overtaken with grass after several days of rain, so I took it upon myself to hoe up that stubborn grass.  That is back breaking work!  I worked over 2 hours and got only 3 rows done.  The next day Jimmy used our small tiller to get in between the rows, and then all 5 children helped me hoe around the plants.  It looks great!  And my plants are really beginning to grow.  
  • I'm having a small reception for Julie Sunday--for family and friends, and so we have been cleaning the house all day.  Thankfully Olivia, Julie, and Leah are all big helps.  Clay and Sam worked outside most of the day, mowing the grass and mulching flower beds. Leanna helped me with some simple but very cute graduation-themed decorations.
  • I finished reading Alas, Babylon, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!  Olivia and Jimmy have both finished reading it now too.  Currently I am reading The Fellowship of the Ring and Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. I really like reading.
  • It's that time of year….VBS and RYC (rustic youth camp) preparation!  I am 99% ready for VBS, but I am just beginning to plan and prepare my RYC materials.  I am teaching with ladies that I love to be with, and so we will have a wonderful week.  As usual, Lynn and I are staying at the same house together, so that is fun too!
  • Running…. I am doing well one week, and then not so well the next.  I guess I do need a race on the calendar to motivate to me get the miles in. That is part of what I am learning from the habits book. It's almost easier to do something every day (or 6 days a week), than to do it 3 or 4 days a week. A couple of weeks ago I ran 6 days in one week (resting on Sunday), and while I did not do a large amount of miles each day, I did manage to get 26 miles for the week. This week I have run only 3 days. I'm going for 6 days again next week. 
I think that is all for now.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Bento Bowls

When we were in Japan in Epcot at Disney, the girls and I found the cutest cookbook ever….Bento Boxes.  It had beautiful photographs and recipes for the most fun and precious lunches ever.  I read a little bit about bento boxes when I got home, and I discovered that it is the thing in Japan. Apparently, Japanese mothers spend lots of time creating these lunches for their children to take to school each day. The foods are cut into all kinds of shapes and even fashioned to resemble animals!

When we got home, I ordered two bento box cookbooks--the one I saw at Disney as well as another one with recipes for adult lunches.

I have not tackled making a bento box.  I could tell that it takes a good bit of time, and our lunches are usually whatever you can find in the refrigerator or pantry.

But Olivia decided to tackle the bento box lunch.  Except that we don't have any cute Bento boxes, so she used my cute Fiestaware bowls.  

Olivia spent about two and a half hours this morning creating six beautiful and delicious bento bowl lunches from scratch!  

A labor of love.

And it was a fantastic lunch!  Just fantastic!

a boiled egg cut in a tulip shape
brown rice
sesame spinach (so yummy!)
homemade "pickles"--cucumbers in flower shapes with vinegar, etc.
homemade sushi!
and various fruit cut in fun shapes

Isn't this the most precious lunch?

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Good Monday

We have had a good, productive day.  We have only 6 more days of school for this school year!  Hooray!  Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, and Tuesday-Friday of the next.  We are celebrating Olivia's 20th birthday on Thursday.  Her birthday was back in April while she was still at college.  She asked if we could have a family celebration when she came home, and this Thursday is the first day that Jimmy is off this month. So.  A birthday party on Thursday!  :)

Kelly is taking his four children and my three youngest on a little road trip to Florida this Friday-Monday.  Fun!  Lynn and I are going to a homeschool conference Friday.  We plan to attend a few of the meetings, browse the vendor booths, and enjoy a meal or two together.  Mostly, we plan to just enjoy one another's company and have fun.

After school was finished for the day I read Alas, Babylon for 30 minutes before I went to town to run a few errands.  I asked Leah if she wanted to go to the library after her piano lesson.  Believe it or not, it has been about a year or more since we went to the library!  It is not convenient for me to go on a regular basis (it's about 15 minutes away, and nowhere near anywhere else I regularly go).  Leah asked me if she could get her own library card, and so we did!  We got one for Sam too.  She checked out eight biographies of various people.  I added a random fiction book for her and a large print copy of  Alice in Wonderland for me to read.

Also today Olivia and Julie shopped for ingredients and supplies and spent the afternoon making a coffee chocolate cheesecake for me--as part of my Mother's Day celebration.  It has to chill overnight (after baking for one hour), and so we will enjoy its deliciousness tomorrow night after supper.  I. Can't. Wait.
While I was visiting some of Olivia's friends while I was packing her up to move her home, Tom made the most delicious coffee cheesecake ever.  I guess I talked a lot about how yummy that cheesecake was, since Olivia and Julie are making one for me.

Today was a good day…..running this morning, laundry and school and cooking throughout the day (with lots of help from my girls), reading Sonlight books to Leah and Sam outside in the beautiful sunshine….watching Jimmy spray the garden, riding on the lawn mower with him for a few minutes…..the children crafting, and singing, and flipping around….

I am so thankful for my family.  I love being a mother.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Garden

Well.  I planted my garden a few weeks ago.  I kept waiting for an opportunity to get it in the ground, but we had SO MUCH RAIN in March and April, that every time Jimmy tilled it, it rained for days, and I could not plant anything.  Finally, I had a window of sunshine.

Jimmy expanded my garden size this year.  It is 30 feet by 30 feet.  Not too terribly big, but the biggest garden I have had.  It has 10 rows.  I planted 4 rows of tomatoes, 40 plants in all.  I will be canning tons of tomatoes this July!  I planted 4 bell pepper plants too. The rest of the things I planted were from seeds:  cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumbers, squash, lettuce, crowder peas, and green beans.  I did not label my rows, and so except for the tomatoes and peppers, I was a little unsure of what was on each row for a while.  I tried to remember and write it down on my garden chart when I got to the house, but I got a little mixed up.  Surprise!  That's what I will have when the plants start growing.  I have figured out which plants are the green beans and squash.  A few seeds still had not sprouted earlier this week, so I replanted a few things.  Who knows what all will come up and where in a few weeks!  I am sure I will need to thin out some of my plants when everything sprouts.

In addition to canning tomatoes, I also hope to have enough peas and green beans to can as well.  We will see!

I am so happy to have Olivia home!  She and Julie and Leah too, when she is not doing school, are crafting like crazy!  We gave Julie a sewing machine for a graduation present, and she and Olivia have their sewing machines set up in our school room.  Julie has already begun piecing a quilt.

Leah, Sam, and Clay have just two more weeks of school!  Then let the summer fun begin!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Last Track Meet

This is the first spring that the Spartan Homeschool Team has participated in a full season of track meets.  They ran in 6 or 7 (I can't remember) meets in all.  It was so much fun!  We ran a meet with 22 other schools (and got home at 1:00 AM) and a meet with 3 schools (tonight, and got home at 10:00 PM--Yay!), and various sized meets in between.  All of our track meets have been in Tennessee because Mississippi public schools (and private schools that are part of the public school athletic association) do not allow our homeschool team to compete in their running events--both cross country and track.  So……we travel!  We pack picnic suppers and lots of drinks and snacks.  They runners and their siblings have enjoyed the fellowship so much.  And so have the parents.  It's been a great season!  Many personal records were set in various distances. I was a little sad that tonight was the last meet of our season.

Sam bought a ukelele with money he had in his savings.  A Ukelele!  I have no idea why he wanted one, but it came in today, and he took it to the track meet.  One of the older runners helped him tune it, and he is already making a little melody.  However, I  foresee his practice time being mostly outside.

I have a new book about teaching literature using the Socratic method.  It's called Reading Roadmaps by Adam and Missy Andrews.  I used Adam Andrew's Teaching the Classics course with Clay earlier this school year, and I really liked it. This summer I hope to pull together a literature/composition course for Clay's 11th grade year.  I will study Reading Roadmaps, the American history booklist from Notgrass curriculum, and the books from Core 100 in Sonlight.  I plan to choose 8 of these books for Clay to read over the school year.  Some of the books will also have accompanying writing assignments.  I am excited about formulating this plan.

Now that I am sort of back in the habit of posting regularly (3 days in a row!), I keep thinking of so many things I want to write about.

I hope to be back tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Beginning Running Plan

My cousin-in-law (is that even such a thing?? Season is Jimmy's first cousin….) asked me to help her get back into running.  She had a new baby recently, and now she is ready to get back into shape.  I told her that I had written a couple of blog posts in the past about starting to run, and that I would find a post and share it again.

Here it is! Originally written in 2013.

I have read many "beginning runner" type articles in magazines, in books, and online. Recently I found my favorite one of all. It is found in the January/February  2010 issue of Women's Running magazine. Most of the other plans I have seen start off fine, but after a few weeks, they seem to make too big of a jump in the routine. This plan gradually takes you from walking only to only running--over the course of 15 -18 weeks.

If regular exercise is one of your New Year's Resolutions, then I encourage you to follow this plan. All you need is a pair of running shoes and some good socks (not 100% cotton). You don't need a special place to walk/ can run up and down your driveway, around your block, in your subdivision, at your local walking track, on a treadmill, etc. One of the contestants of The Biggest Loser (I think this was in 2009) trained for a marathon (26.2 miles) by running from her front porch to her mailbox....over and over again!

Here's the plan!

Weeks 1-2: walk 30-40 minutes, 3-4 times a week
Begin each week's workout with a brisk 5 minute walk to warm-up
Weeks 3-4: Alternate 1 minute running/3 minutes walking, 7 times
Weeks 5-6: Alternate 2 minutes running/3 minutes walking, 6 times
Weeks 7-8: Alternate 3 minutes running/3 minutes walking, 5 times
Weeks 9-10: Alternate 3 minutes running/2 minutes walking, 6 times
Weeks 11-12: Alternate 4 minutes running/2 minutes walking, 5 times
Weeks 13-14: Alternate 4 minutes running/1 minute walking, 6 times
Weeks 15-16: Alternate 5 minutes running/ 1 minute walking, 5 times

After this, every two weeks add one more minute to your running time until you are running 10 minutes/walking 1 minute. You can eventually build up to continuous 30 minutes of running with no walk breaks, but if walking one minute after running 8-10 minutes helps, continue indefinitely!  When I ran my first half marathon, I walked a minute every mile, which was about equal to running 10 minutes/walking 1 minute. I also trained this way for my first marathon.  For my second marathon, I trained running 1 mile and walking 30 seconds.  For my third marathon (Disney), I trained running 1 mile and walking 1 minute.  For my next marathon training, I trained running the first 3 miles, and then walking for 1 minute after every 2 miles. Since I have been running for 8 years now, I can run shorter distances of 6-7 miles and less without any walk breaks, but anytime I am running longer than 7, I take the walk breaks.  It really makes a difference!

Actually now (now--May 2015) when I am doing long runs, I take a 45 second walk break after every two miles. 

The important thing to remember is to try to enjoy the run!  You should be running at a pace that you can talk to someone running beside you.  That's what makes it fun! If you are new to running, I encourage you to find a 5K race in your area.  It is a lot of fun to run a race!  Try to find a friend to sign up, train, and run with you, but even if you can't find someone to run with, try it alone.  You will feel such a sense of accomplishment when you cross the finish line.  And you will probably get a cool t-shirt!

I hope this plan works for some of you.

Happy Running!

p.s.  I am not a doctor or any kind of health care professional.  Please use your common sense when beginning to exercise, and seek professional help if you have any questions/concerns/injuries, etc.